The Nodal CPIO is transferring the RTI applications to numerous CPIOs within the public authority without application of mind - CIC: Show cause notice issued to the PIO; The Vice Chairman, DDA advised to look into the style of work in the RTI cell
O R D E R
1. The complainant/appellant filed an application under the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) before the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) Delhi Development Authority, Vikas Minar, I.P. Estate, New Delhi seeking information on six points, including, inter-alia:-
(i) Action taken on his complaint dated 08.08.2010;
(ii) Please inform the entire sequence of flow/movement of my complaint with various officials of various public authorities and action taken by each of the official on my complaint, giving complete details of action taken on his complaint starting from filing of complaint till date of reply by the respective CPIO of the public authority, by giving details viz.
i. Name of the official
ii. Designation of official
iii. Name of public authority
iv. Date of receiving of complaint / file containing my complaints, both the complaints, by the official and the public authority
v. Action taken by respective official and the name of public authority vi. Date of action taken
vii. Directions issued by respective official
(iii) Please inform that with which deptt. and with which public authority my complaints are lying with, at the time of reply by CPIO of the public authority, etc.
2. Being aggrieved with the reply given by the CPIO, the complainant/appellant filed a complaint u/Section 18 of the RTI Act and second appeal under Section 19 of the RTI Act before the Commission requesting to take appropriate legal action against the CPIO u/Section 20 of the RTI Act and complete information should be provided to him.
3. The complainant/appellant attended the hearing through audio-call. The respondents, Ms. Jaswinder Kaur, Assistant Director, Planning M & C, Shri Praveen Kumar, Deputy Director (Building), Shri Neeraj Kumar Gupta, Assistant Director, LMC and Shri Anil Kumar Arora attended the hearing through audio call.
4. The complainant/appellant submitted his written submissions dated 14.10.2020 and the same has been taken on record. The respondent submitted their written submissions dated 12.10.2020 and the same has been taken on record.
5. The complainant/appellant and the respondent are agreed for adjudication and hearing of all above matters together because the subject-matter is similar in nature.
6. The complainant/appellant submitted that the CPIO has not given any information on his RTI application dated 26.08.2018 within stipulated period of time as per the provisions of the RTI Act. Being aggrieved, he has filed the first appeal before the First Appellate Authority but no information has been provided to him. The complainant/appellant submitted that his RTI application has only been transferred from one CPIO to another but no information has been provided to him. The complainant/appellant submitted that on 13.10.2020 he has received some reply from the respondent.
7. The respondent, Ms. Jaswinder Kaur submitted that vide their letter dated 10.09.2018, they have forwarded the RTI application of the complainant/appellant to the North MCD and Nodal Officer, DDA. She stated that no other information is available with their division. Shri Neeraj Kumar Gupta from Commercial Land branch submitted that the relevant file in the matter was submitted to LG. On query from the Commission, he submitted that he is not sure that whether any reply was given to the complainant/appellant within stipulated period of time as per the provisions of the RTI Act. He stated that on 13.10.2020, they have informed the complainant/appellant that the relevant file was not available in their office.
8. The Commission, after hearing the submissions of both the parties and after perusal of records, observes that till date no information has been provided to the complainant/appellant on his RTI application dated 26.08.2018 by the respondent. It is further observed that the Nodal CPIO, DDA has only transferred the RTI application of the complainant/appellant to multiple CPIOs of various branches of DDA. Some of the CPIOs were present during the hearing but none of them has given appropriate reply to the complainant/appellant on his RTI application within stipulated period of time as per the provisions of the RTI Act.
9. The Commission further observed that the complainant/appellant has sought information regarding action taken on his complaint and other related issues but there is nothing on record which shows that information was given to the complainant/appellant within stipulated period of time. The Nodal CPIO has instead of transferring the RTI application to one specific CPIO, he has transferred the same to numerous CPIOs within the public authority without application of mind. The Commission further observed that the complainant/ appellant had filed large number of RTI applications/second appeal on same subject-matter, which shows lack of handling of RTI applications on the part of Nodal CPIO. The Commission further observed that it is only on 13.10.2020, the respondent had informed the complainant/ appellant that the relevant file was lying with LG and is not available in their office. It is also not clear that at the time of receipt of RTI application of the complainant/ appellant, as to whether the said file was lying with the LG office or was available with the respondent public authority. These kinds of replies from the public authority shows the serious lacuna in the department handling the RTI applications of the applicants. It seems that the provisions of the RTI Act are not being followed seriously. The CPIOs are handling the RTI application with lackadaisical approach. The Commission take anguish view in this regard because the RTI Act is clearly violated by the hands of the respondent public authority.
10. The Commission further observes that some queries of the complainant/appellant are in the nature of seeking explanation/opinion/advice from the CPIO and he has expected that the CPIO firstly should analyze the documents and then provide information to the complainant/appellant in a specific format. But the CPIO is not supposed to create information; or to interpret information; or to furnish clarification; or to compile or collate information in a specific manner to the complainant/ appellant under the ambit of the RTI Act. The CPIO is only a communicator of information based on the records held in the office and hence, he cannot be expected to do research work to deduce anything from the material therein and then supply it to him.
11. In view of the above observations, the Commission directs the CPIO, Commercial Land branch to give information to the complainant/appellant regarding the action/ taken on his complaint dated 08.08.2010 including the broad outcome of his complaint, as per the provisions of the RTI Act which should be given after receipt of file from the LG office. The above directions should be complied within a period of 30 working days from the date of receipt of this order under intimation to the Commission.
12. The Commission further directed the then CPIO, Commercial Land branch to show-cause in writing that as to why penalty should not be imposed on him for contravening the provisions of the RTI Act by not giving any reply/information to the complainant/appellant on his RTI application dated 26.08.2018 within stipulated period of time as per the provisions of the RTI Act, within 15 days from the date of receipt of this order. The respondent is directed to ensure service a copy of this order to the then CPIO of Commercial Land branch.
13. The Commission further advised the Vice Chairman, DDA to look into the style of work in the RTI cell and what methods has been adopted by the Nodal CPIO regarding the disposal of RTI applications. The Commission observed in various cases that the Nodal CPIO without application of mind transferring the RTI applications to numerous CPIOs within the public authority, which is not required. The Commission is of the view that the respondent should analyze the RTI application properly and then transfer the same to the specific CPIO. The Commission is of the view that the Vice-Chairman should appoint a Nodal CPIO who should be well-experienced and well-versed with the provisions of the RTI Act and who should handle the RTI applications properly.
14. No further intervention of the Commission is required in the matter.
15. With the above observations, the appeal is disposed of.
16. Copy of the decision be provided free of cost to the parties.
Neeraj Kumar Gupta
Citation: Akshay Kumar Malhotra v. Delhi Development Authority in Complaint No. CIC/DDATY/C/2019/101384, Second Appeal No. CIC/DDATY/A/2019/101389, Complaint No. CIC/DDATY/C/2019/101502 and Second Appeal No. CIC/DDATY/A/2019/100447, Date of decision: 19.10.2020